Ratliffe powers Missouri past Baylor
Ricardo Ratliffe made it sound like just another game for No. 5 Missouri after holding on for a big road victory at No. 3 Baylor.
Maybe Ratliffe, the nation's best shooter, and the Tigers are just so used to having success this season.
''It was the next game on our schedule,'' Ratliffe said nonchalantly after Missouri's 89-88 victory. ''We're just trying to go out and get better and win games.''
The Tigers (18-1, 5-1 Big 12) did both Saturday in winning on the road against a top five team for the first time since 1994. They also won at a place where they had lost their last three trips, this being their last before moving to the Southeastern Conference next season.
Ratliffe scored a career-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting for the Tigers, who built an early lead by outrebounding Baylor's big front-line and then made 10 free throws in the final minute to hold off a furious rally by the Bears.
''Obviously this was a great win for us,'' coach Frank Haith said. ''Our guys showed tremendous poise down the stretch. Throughout the game, we played with great toughness.''
Ratliffe, who is shooting 77 percent from the field this season, had a big two-handed slam dunk midway through the second half when he scored six points in an 8-0 spurt that put the Tigers up 68-58. Missouri still had a 10-point lead with 3:07 left, then didn't score again until his two free throws with a minute left.
Missouri had to make 10 of 12 free throws in the final minute for the victory. Marcus Denmon's free throw with 4 seconds left made it 89-85 before Brady Heslip hit a game-ending 3-pointer for Baylor (17-2, 4-2), which has lost two in a row after a 17-0 start.
Baylor was coming off a 92-74 loss at No. 7 Kansas that ended the Bears' record 17-game winning streak. The loss to Missouri ended their 10-game home winning streak.
''That's what makes our league so great. There's no easy game,'' Baylor coach Scott Drew said. ''Hopefully we'll get back to rebounding a little better, trying to get to the free-throw line like we were for most of the year, and then go from there.''
The top two scoring and shooting teams in the Big 12 certainly lived up to that billing in the league's first top-five matchup that didn't involve either Kansas or Texas.
Missouri shot 55 percent (30 of 55), and Baylor finished at 57 percent (36 of 63).
Freshman Quincy Miller led Baylor with 29 points while Pierre Jackson had 20 points and 15 assists. Quincy Acy had 18 points with nine rebounds while Heslip had 10 points.
Phil Pressey had 18 points for the Tigers while Denmon had 15 and Kim English 10.
The Tigers, who have won four in a row since their loss at Kansas State two weeks ago, led only 58-56 midway through the second half when Pressey had a turnover. Heslip tried a 3-pointer and appeared to be hit when he shot, but there was no foul and Drew was called for a technical foul.
''I deserved it,'' Drew said. ''I didn't cuss at him though.''
Denmon made both of those free throws, then after a layup by Acy, Ratliff had his big dunk and added two free throws between consecutive turnovers by Jackson. Ratliffe's layup after Pressey's steal made it 68-58 with 8 minutes left.
Jackson had 11 points and three assists in the final 2:06 when Baylor closed the game with a 19-10 run. Jackson started that when he drove and was fouled, yelling out ''and one!'' before he even hit the floor and the ball fell through the hoop. He made the free throw, cutting the deficit to 79-72.
After Denmon's last free throw, his fifth in the final 33 seconds, Jackson tried to throw up a 3-pointer and draw a foul in the same motion. The ball wound up in Heslip's hands along the left wing with no one around him.
Missouri led 39-35 at the half after a 6-0 run that included consecutive putback baskets.
By that point, the Tigers had a 14-0 advantage in second-chance points and its 10 offensive rebounds were only one fewer than the Bears' total rebounds. Missouri finished with a 32-26 rebounding edge, and 18-11 advantage on second-chance points.
''Our ability to rebound the ball was important for us to win this game, and we were able to get that,'' Haith said. ''And against a team that played zone, I thought we did a great job. We didn't want to settle for a bunch of 3s. ... Those are the things we really wanted to do and get accomplished, and I thought we did that, and obviously we were able to hang on and win the game.''